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July 16, 2013 | By Jim Puzzanghera
WASHINGTON - The nation's consumer watchdog for credit cards, mortgages and other financial products is set to emerge from a legal cloud that threatened its authority after a Senate deal paved the way for confirmation of its director. After Tuesday's approval of Richard Cordray to a five-year term as the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the young agency now has the certainty that it has lacked since being created as the centerpiece of the 2010 Wall Street reform law. That means that bureau rules and enforcement actions designed to protect consumers from risky mortgages, misleading credit card marketing, abusive debt collection and other questionable financial practices won't be in danger of being overturned because of legal questions about Cordray's controversial recess appointment in 2012.
July 2, 2013 | By Brian Bennett
WASHINGTON - The official in charge of investigating potential misdeeds at the Department of Homeland Security is under investigation on allegations of nepotism, abusing his position and covering up details about a Secret Service prostitution scandal. Senate investigators are looking into allegations that Deputy Inspector Gen. Charles K. Edwards was "susceptible to political pressure" and that he changed and withheld information for reports on the misconduct of U.S. Secret Service agents who hired prostitutes in Cartagena, Colombia, during a visit before a 2012 presidential trip, according to a letter two senators sent to Edwards on June 27. "Numerous" complaints from fellow employees allege that Edwards improperly employed his wife, Madhuri Edwards, as a supervisory auditor in his office, that he arranged for her to telecommute from India for seven months, and that he took "retaliatory action" against people who objected, according to the letter from Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat who chairs the oversight subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, and the subcommittee's top Republican, Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin.
July 2, 2013 | By Tiffany Hsu, This post has been updated. Please see below for details
Food-focused watchdog group Center for Science in the Public Interest has its hooks in Long John Silver's, accusing the seafood chain of serving the least healthful meal in the country. The advocacy group said it ran laboratory tests on the chain's Big Catch meal, including batter-fried haddock and side dishes such as hush puppies and onion rings. The results showed 33 grams of trans fat, according to the group -- or more than two weeks' worth of the two-grams-a-day allotment recommended by the American Heart Assn.
June 21, 2013 | By Chris Megerian, Los Angeles Times
SACRAMENTO -- Ann Ravel, California's top campaign finance watchdog, was nominated to the Federal Election Commission by President Obama on Friday. As chairwoman of the state's Fair Political Practices Commission for the last two years, Ravel has been a consistent critic of the federal government's unwillingness to crack down on secret money in politics. She also received nationwide attention for trying to uncover the donors behind an $11-million contribution that was funneled into California campaigns last year by an Arizona-based nonprofit, Americans for Responsible Leadership.
June 21, 2013 | By Joel Rubin
The city's independent watchdog over the Los Angeles Police Department said Friday that he found no major problems with the department's report on Christopher Dorner and concurred with the report's conclusion that police officials were right to fire Dorner. Dorner was fired from the LAPD in 2009 for fabricating a story in which he accused his partner of kicking a handcuffed, mentally-ill man. In February of this year, police say, Dorner went on a killing rampage to avenge what he saw as his wrongful firing.
June 13, 2013 | By Joe Flint
Gannett Co.'s proposed acquisition of Belo Corp. is the latest in a slew of deals in the television industry. Last week, Media General acquired Young Broadcasting to create a company that will own 30 TV stations in 27 markets. In April, Sinclair Broadcast Group acquired Fisher Communications for $373 million. Gannett's $2.2-billion deal -- $1.5 billion in cash and the assumption of about $700 million in debt -- will give it 43 stations in markets reaching about one-third of the country.
June 11, 2013 | By Joel Rubin, Los Angeles Times
The Los Angeles Police Department investigates incidents involving the use of force by officers in a way that makes it difficult in most cases for the city's police watchdog to evaluate the thoroughness of those investigations, according to a recent report. Alex Bustamante, the inspector general for the L.A. Police Commission, presented the oversight board with a detailed report Tuesday examining how LAPD officials deal with incidents involving less serious uses of force by officers.
May 17, 2013 | By Jessica Guynn
SAN FRANCISCO -- A privacy watchdog group is going after Snapchat for deceiving users about self-destructing messages that don't actually self-destruct. The smartphone app has become popular with young people for sending messages that a few seconds later disappear. That clever disappearing act has made the Los Angeles start-up a hit with users and some prominent investors in Silicon Valley. But it turns out that photos sent over Snapchat have a longer shelf life than people think.
April 23, 2013 | By Kate Linthicum, Los Angeles Times
The Los Angeles City Council approved a plan Tuesday to begin moving away from coal-fired energy, despite warnings from a Department of Water and Power watchdog that the shift could cost more than $650 million. Like many utilities, the city-owned DWP gets more of its power from coal than from any other source. But last month, after a lengthy campaign by environmentalists, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and utility officials announced a plan to end the city's reliance on coal two years ahead of a state-mandated deadline.
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